Bulgaria’s 3rd biggest city, and its largest on the Black Sea coast, Varna was founded by the Greeks in 580 BC as a trading post, and was later colonised by the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, and Russians, before the Bulgarians finally took it over.

Today, the city is a melting pot of ancient, medieval, and modern influence, and boasts a fine selection of historical buildings, museums, and galleries. It is a major port for Bulgaria’s navy and also for commercial ships, but it is perhaps best known for the Black Sea tourist resorts that are located just north of the city; with 10 or 11 hours of sunshine a day in the summer months, it is of no surprise that tourists flock to Varna to enjoy its beaches and climate.


The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin is an impressive 19th century landmark, filled with murals, a bishop’s throne, and an intricately carved iconostasis. The Roman Baths date back to the 2nd century and are the ruins of the largest Roman building in Bulgaria. Part of the building is hidden beneath the city’s streets, adding to its charm.

The Battle of Varna in 1444 saw 30,000 Crusaders, who were waiting to sail to Constantinople, be defeated by 120,000 Ottoman forces, and a granite monument in the city commemorates the event.

The city is full of interesting museums. The Archaeological Museum is particularly good for seeing Ancient Greek relics. The National Maritime Museum relives the region’s maritime history, from ancient times to the present day, and the most famous exhibit is the Drazki torpedo boat, which sunk a Turkish cruiser in the first Balkan War in 1912. Varna’s Terrarium houses many exotic species from across the world, in addition to a number of rare Bulgarian varieties.

The reason many visitors come to Varna is for the beach resorts to the north of the city, the best known including Golden Sands, Albena, Sunny Day, and St Constantine. Catering to both Bulgarians and foreigners, they offer a variety of accommodation, from campsites to 5 star hotels, and provide visitors with long, sandy beaches, as well as a selection of water sports.


In the tourist resorts, shops and stalls offer visitors the usual range of souvenirs, such as local handicrafts, paintings, and clothes, amongst other things.

In Varna’s city centre, the outdoor market sells clothes, food, and other goods, and is a good place to catch a bargain.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Varna’s restaurants offer traditional Bulgarian fare, as well as European cuisine. Local dishes worth trying include Shopska salad, mushroom croquettes, and veal with prunes. Being by the Black Sea, Varna has an abundance of good seafood on offer.

For bars and nightclubs, most visitors will head for the beach resorts, where countless establishments offer Bulgarian and foreign beers and liquors. There are also some casinos for those wanting to try their luck at earning some money.

Tourist Information

  • Varna Tourist Service, 10 Chataldzha Boulevard, 9002 Varna
  • Telephone: +359 52 603 255


Varna’s airport is located 8 km to the west of the city centre, and is easily reached by bus or taxi. The airport is served by a number of European and Middle Eastern carriers, both charter and regular. In addition, Varna is a convenient base for getting to Sofia and Istanbul by long-distance bus.